Tzachi Hanegbi
MK Tzachi Hanegbi. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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The chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima ), does not believe that the source of a leak of an internal discussion was one the MKs present. Hanegbi reached this conclusion following a request from Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to investigate the leak of a debate on the report of the Eiland Committee, the IDF's in-house investigation into May's botched raid on the Gaza aid flotilla.

The Eiland Committee presented its conclusions to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on July 22. Shortly afterward, extracts from the discussion were leaked to Haaretz.

Particular attention was drawn by the remarks of Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who observed that responsibility for the operation's failure lies with the IDF, because the abilities the military presented to the government did not materialize as expected during the raid. "As an army, we presented our capabilities and said it would work. In reality, it didn't work," reportedly said Kochavi, who has since been appointed as chief of Military Intelligence.

The report in Haaretz was based on leaked quotes from a document summing up the meeting. The leak provoked some criticism, as the forum of subcommittee heads that held the discussion has until now been considered a secure forum in which high-ranking officials could speak freely without fear of being quoted in the media.

While some members of the Knesset committee approached Hanegbi immediately after the publication, it now transpires that Hanegbi was also separately approached by the chief of staff. Hanegbi responded to Ashkenazi that after investigating the matter, he reached the conclusion that neither the committee advisors nor the MKs leaked the information.

He said none of the MKs took notes during the meeting, and the official minutes had not yet been circulated when the media reports appeared.

Hanegbi also noted that he lacks the means to investigate the leak further, adding that the chief of staff can approach other officials on the matter.

Some in the IDF believed at the time that the leak came from the office of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as the quotes appear to have been to his advantage in his rivalry with Ashkenazi. One military source told Haaretz that a Defense Ministry representative was at the meeting and took notes. The defense minister's office denied any connection to the leak.